Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Dangers of a Compassionate Government

     I was recently driving around my neighborhood and saw a billboard advertising the re-election effort for a local judge. On the billboard was printed three words to describe the qualities, which the campaign felt, best qualified this person for the position. The three words were experience, dedication and compassion. The first two I consider to be characteristics that are essential to the task of administering the law of the land. The last one, compassion, has no place in the the resume for any U.S. judge.
     I am sure that many of you are thinking, "Why make such a big deal about a local judge's campaign sign?"  I think the sign is illustrative of a bigger problem in our country, which is the ease with which people are willing to allow the government to expand its Constitutional mandate into areas that the founders never envisioned. Who can be against compassion? Well certainly not me. However, there is no place in the law for compassion, that is why lady justice is blindfolded. It's tandem to what James Madison said about the Constitution, which is that there is no charity to be found within it.
     The bitter pill of tyranny becomes more palatable by the coupling of the law and government with compassion and charity. Compassion and charity are traditionally the domain of private charities and community organizations, such as churches. As the government becomes a larger part of these private functions, it depletes the private sector of the resources necessary to perform these functions. Thus leaving the government the sole provider of compassion and charity. Government has no money of its own, so it must tax or borrow money in the name of what bureaucrats deem is compassionate. The government defining what compassion is and who is deserving of it is one of the biggest dangers to liberty and personal freedom. A phrase which best exemplifies this concept is, "The deserving poor." It is not the Constitutional role of government to decide who is deserving and who is not?
     The last 50 years is replete with examples of the Federal government engaging in extra-constitutional functions, culminating with Obamacare. The danger with Obamacare is not so much the astronomical cost, which in itself is a huge drag on the economy and therefore individual freedom, but the shredding of Constitutional rights that is part-and-parcel to any intrusion of government into the private sector. This could not have been more aptly illustrated than it was recently with the edict from the Obama administration forcing the Catholic church to violate its core religious values. This is the landscape we will be forced to traverse as the government is allowed to be the arbiter of rights, in this case the right of women to free contraception. It is the fundamental difference between modern Liberals and Conservatives. Liberals believe that rights are bestowed upon the people by the government and that government can create new rights out of whole cloth. This is dangerous because a government that can give rights can also take them away. Conservatives believe that the rights of free people come from God and government is there to simply protect those rights. That is what makes the U.S. Constitution special, it acknowledges that God and not government is the source of human rights. Madison said that if men were angles, there would be no need for government. And that if men were governed by angels there would be no need to limit the power of government. The modern day Liberal believes the former but rejects the latter as antiquated. They feel there is no need to impose any limits on government at all.    

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Dark Day For America

     It truly is a dark day for America, this week the President and a Supreme Court justice have both expressed their contempt for the Constitution. First, in his pre-Super Bowl interview, the President lamented that he has not been able to push through more of his agenda because the founders designed a system that made change difficult. This is not the first time that President Obama has expressed his contempt for the U.S. Constitution. In a radio interview in 2002, Barrack Obama called the Constitution a charter of negative rights because it only stated what the government could not do to the citizens and not what the government should do for the citizens. The point of the Constitution is to limit the government. The Constitution spells out how life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness alluded to in the Declaration of Independence, is to be protected.
     The second incident this week which doesn't bode well for individual liberty, is the statement made by Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. In an Egyptian interview she stated that she would not use the U.S. Constitution as a model for a new constitution being written in 2012. Her comments are reprehensible coming from any American, let alone a Supreme Court justice who has taken an oath to protect, defend and promote the Constitution of the United States of America. I don't know under what authority she can continue to be a justice and decide cases based on a Constitution, which she apparently does not support.
     These two incidences illustrate that the U.S. Constitution, which values the individual over the state, is a threat to those on the left such as President Obama and Justice Ginsberg. As statists, they believe in the power of the state over individual liberty. This concept is at odds with the basic values outlined in the Constitution and our other founding documents. The President has acted upon his contempt for the Constitution with the recent edict created by Obamacare which forces religious institutions to provide services to their employees that are at odds with the tenets of their faith. This is a clear shredding of the free exercise clause of the first amendment. And Justice Ginsberg will soon act on her contempt when, I am sure, she will find in favor of the administration when the Supreme Court takes up the case against Obamacare. It is a sad day, indeed, for those of us who believe the Constitution is what made this country great because it affirms that rights come from God and not government. Once we except the premise that rights come from government, as proffered by President Obama, Justice Ginsberg and others, then they can also be taken away by the same government.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Employment Report From Oz

     Yesterday the government released the latest jobs report, and it showed that 243 thousand jobs were added in January and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent. And as the President crowed incessantly about an unemployment rate that is substantially higher than it was three years ago when he took office, I had a few questions.
     The report showed that small business hiring remained stagnant while larger corporations like Kraft and others have actually laid off workers. So I wonder, from where did all the new jobs come. When one examines the raw data from the Department of Labor Statistics, one stands out above all others. At the end of December, 2011, there were approximately 132 million people working in the U.S. At the end of January, 2012, the number of working people in the U.S. had dropped to approximately 130 million. Meaning that approximately 2 million jobs were lost. Of course this number represents a result before the seasonal adjustment and other government mathematical manipulations.
     Another data point that is worth reviewing is the labor participation rate, which is the percentage of the adult population that is employed. This number is the lowest it has been in decades and has dropped a whopping four percent since President Obama was inaugurated. This fact, along with the record number of people receiving unemployment benefits for more than 27 weeks and record numbers of people working part time jobs who wish to work full time, is not illustrative of a recovering economy. Since President Obama has started his term, 14 million people have been added to the food stamp rolls.
     So how, you may ask, did the economy add jobs and reduce the unemployment rate? The Department of Labor statistics has two important unemployment numbers, the U-3 and the U-6. The U-3 number is the adjusted and manipulated figure and the U-6 is the total number of unemployed. The U-6 number counts those who have come to the end of their unemployment benefits as well as those who have given up looking for employment. This number is often called the "real" unemployment number and is currently at 15.1 percent.  What the current administration does, which none before them have, is to add those who have given up looking for work and those who have run out of unemployment benefits to the number of jobs actually created in a month. This has the result of reducing the universe of jobs available and thereby reducing the unemployment rate.
     Recently, the Fed chairman and the Congressional Budget Office have reported that the economy is in dire shape. These reports, along with the statistics I have outlined above, illustrate that the man behind the curtain isn't fooling anyone. Except the munchkins who hang on his every word.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Electability Myth

     Over the past nine months I have heard pundits on the right, from talk show host Michael Medved to author Ann Coulter, expounding the virtues of Mitt Romney's electability. The narrative they promote is that Mitt Romney is more electable than any of the other Republican presidential candidates. I can't understand why otherwise intelligent people can be so wrong. The only candidate in the 2012 presidential race that isn't electable should be Barrack Obama. With real unemployment at 15% and the economy slated to grow at a pathetic rate of 1 to 2 percent over the next two years, this election should be a slam-dunk for Republicans.
     I'm not quite sure why some people on the right feel that Mitt Romney is more electable, after all he has only won 10 out of the 26 political contests he has been involved with to date. His positions shift like the desert sands and he has a real problem connecting with people on a personal level. And, of course, he has that healtcare issue that will be an albatross around his neck in the general election. Repealing Obamacare is an important issue for over 60 percent of voters, according to recent polling. Mitt Romney not only supported an individual mandate, which is the cornerstone of Obamacare, but he implemented the predecessor to Obamacare in Massachusetts. The two plans are so similar that they both use the same terms to describe the different tiers of coverage. Norm Coleman, an advisor to the Romney campaign, recently stated in an email that they have no plans to repeal Obamacare once in office. His email stated that they would work to improve and change the existing law. This is contrary to what most Americans want the next administration to do.
     In order to win the Presidency, the Republican candidate will need to mount a strong attack against the policies being implemented by the President and his party that are sinking this country in an ocean of debt. The successful candidate will need to show how these policies are eroding personal liberty and creating a Greek-style dependence on government for more and more Americans. Mitt Romney has not shown that he can do this in any way, shape, manner or form. His weak-knee'd criticism of the President and his policies will only ensure another four years of Barrack Obama.